The first ‘Smes’ Fest honoring the renaissance and medieval times in which Calhoun High School teacher Doug Smestad found himself irrevocably drawn to – and which became a large part of his life as reflected through Smestad’s Knights – will be held in June at the high school.
Calhoun student Matt Koffler announced the date would be Saturday, June 11, at last month’s Celebration of Life Memorial for the well-loved teacher, who died recently.
In a letter to parents of the Calhoun school community, Calhoun Principal Nicole Hollings wrote of the Celebration of Life that … “Many alumni returned for the night along with parents, friends and students. The Concert Choir and choral alumni sang ‘The Lord Bless You and Keep You’ followed by Unwritten which sums up the message that Doug gave to so many.
“There were a series of speakers – a mix of colleagues and students who are current, recent, and not so recent graduates – who spoke so lovingly about the impact Doug had on their lives. Doug gave so much to all who crossed his path and what he did for so many students was extraordinary.
“Sal Salerno, Russ Dembin, and Ethan Smestad performed as ‘The Band,’ with Ethan taking his father’s place. Video montages of Doug singing his songs with family pictures brought his spirit into the auditorium depicting his zest for life, his varied interests and the loves of his life – his wife Janice and sons Ethan and Dylan. The chorus, band and orchestra joined forces to sing ‘Circle of Life’ – I do not know how to describe that performance to you in words, but I was filled with unbelievable joy at having had the privilege of knowing Doug and calling him a friend.
“A standing ovation for the music but also for Doug was followed by the presentation of his memorial plaque that will be affixed outside his classroom. Ethan Smestad ended the evening talking about his parents and the love they gave and what he learned from them about giving to others – gratitude was the theme. That is one of many things we learned from Doug – what the spirit of gratitude looks like and sounds like and how to live giving to others.”
Hollings told Your NewsMag that $5000 was raised during the Celebration of Life, for student scholarships given to seniors who exemplify a desire to learn, a love of music, empatahy for others, passionate service to the community and supportive leadership traits.